How does the commandment “YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FOR YOURSELF A GRAVEN IMAGE . . .” apply to images used in Christian art?
Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.”St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II,81,3 ad 3.
An excellent reflection by an artist on this subject can be found here:
Another article explaining the misrepresentation/misunderstanding of the Catholic teaching by the Seventh Day Adventists can be found here:
Graven Images: Altering the Commandments?
In Exodus 20:3-6 God forbids making graven images to worship in idolatry but does not forbid the making of all religious images. This is easily provable since He COMMANDS that they be created.
Other sources or references for further study are:
St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto 18,45: PG 32,149C
Council of Nicaea II: DS 601
Council of Trent: DS 1821-1825
CCT: Catechism of Council of Trent, Section: First Commandment
CCC: John Paul II’s Catechism of Catholic Church nn. 2129-2132 – though parts of this catechism contain error we refer to those parts that reflect normative Catholic teaching since this resource is more readily accessible to many of our readers.